For many, Brexit has felt like a never-ending journey.
While voters in the United Kingdom cast their votes way back in the summer of 2016, it is only now–in January 2021–that the country officially marks its departure from the European Union after 40 years.
Britons will now have to confront the reality of a post-Brexit world. But what impact does leaving the EU have on businesses? Will “taking back control” offer companies a wealth of new opportunities or a deluge of red tape?
What Rules is Brexit Changing?
One key concern facing employers because of Brexit is their ability to plug holes in the workforce caused by skill shortages. Until now, the UK enjoyed the benefits of the EU’s freedom of movement, allowing employers to tap into the wealth of skilled candidates living in its member states.
However, the regulatory landscape has been transformed by the UK’s departure. Potential candidates from EU states must now fulfil the requirements of the UK’s new Immigration Bill to be granted a visa that allows them to live and work in the country. Acceptance for a visa is calculated via a point-based system; applicants must accrue at least 70 points before they are approved, though it’s worth noting that having a job offer and the ability to speak English at an intermediate level account for up to 50 of those 70 points. This brings processes in line with those UK-based companies have been following to hire employees from nations outside of the UK and EU, who will not see any major changes.
Coupled with the economic fallout of the pandemic, this shift into uncharted terrain places additional pressure on businesses at an uncertain time. The situation now is more complex, but the new regulations should not deter employers from seeking EU candidates for a specific role. With the right advice and support, they can navigate the new legislation and remain compliant.
With the end of free movement, employers cannot guarantee employment to candidates who are EU citizens, as they were able to pre-Brexit. As there is sure to be an influx of applications from both skilled EU and non-EU workers, employers must act swiftly, so they can mitigate the impact of the expected administrative backlog.
The first thing any UK-based business should do when looking to hire foreign candidates is register for a sponsor license. Registrants are subjected to a series of checks to prove they are genuine businesses, are solvent and that they will conduct themselves in a way that is beneficial to the wider public good.
In an attempt to attract top talent from around the world and ease the burden on businesses, the UK government has also introduced the Global Talent immigration scheme. It is designed to target skilled overseas workers in sectors where the UK lacks sufficient home-grown specialists; these include science, humanities, engineering, the arts (such as film, fashion design and architecture) and digital technology. The visa is not points-based, is relatively quick and does not require a job offer for application.
The Impact of Brexit on Existing Employees
All EU nationals currently working or studying in the UK must register for the EU Settlement Scheme to comply with new immigration, tax and labor laws. While the deadline to register their claim is June 30, 2021, companies should advise employees who are EU citizens to complete them well in advance to account for any potential administrative backlogs.
For UK nationals currently working or studying in the EU, most member nations have already implemented a special immigration status to ensure uninterrupted/uncontested post-Brexit residency and work status. However, UK nationals will still be required to undertake a verification process with relevant authorities in their country of work in order to maintain existing legal work and residence status.
How Businesses Can Circumnavigate These Changes
Is there an alternative to the logistical complexities brought on by Brexit? There are two main ways UK-based companies can bring in talent without getting lost in the red tape.
One option is to focus on hiring remote employees. The surge in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to companies that, with the right technology and tools, they can run and manage a business successfully without having to share the same office space. However, they will need to make sure they comply with the labor and tax laws of their employees’ home countries and are able to administer payroll and benefits locally. Outsourcing administrative services is a cost-effective way of handling that; Elements’ Administrative Services Outsourcing (ASO) offering ensures all aspects of the employer-employee relationship are fully compliant.
Remote employees aren’t a viable option for many industries, however, for businesses looking to hire employees from the EU and beyond and bring them to the UK, partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR) might make sense. An EOR is a comprehensive and flexible solution that relieves them of all the administrative aspects of employment while ensuring they adhere to immigration, tax and labor laws. While EOR services are not unique to Europe or the UK, they provide a cost-effective, simple and fast solution to navigating the new changes brought about by Brexit.
About Elements Global Services:
Elements Global Services is an award-winning HR technology & services company. Elements provides employment solutions in over 135 countries – covering everything from payroll, benefits, HR, local compliance to visa & mobility. Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, Elements has a global network of offices and employees delivering innovative solutions to its growing customer base. Elements’ Direct Employer of Record model helps companies expand, onboard, manage & pay employees worldwide. Visit www.elementsgs.com, LinkedIn or Twitter for more information.